U.S. LNG exports set to fall to six-week low on Corpus Christi maintenance

(Reuters) - The amount of natural gas flowing to U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants was on track to drop to a six-week low on Thursday due to planned work at Cheniere Energy Inc’s Corpus Christi in Texas, according to analysts and Refinitiv.

LNG feedgas was on track to fall to 9.1 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) on Thursday, according to Refinitiv data, its lowest since Feb. 26 when U.S. exports were recovering after several Gulf Coast LNG plants shut due to a shortage of gas and power during the Texas freeze in mid February.

Analysts said it was normal for LNG plants and gas pipelines supplying them to shut for maintenance in the spring when demand is low.

Cheniere, which does not comment on operations, said in a posting on its website there was pipeline maintenance at the Sinton compressor in Texas on April 8.

So far this month, the amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG plants averaged 11.1 bcfd, which would top March’s monthly record of 10.8 bcfd.

Buyers around the world continue to purchase record amounts of U.S. gas because prices in Europe and Asia remain high enough to cover the cost of buying and transporting the fuel across the ocean.

Traders, however, noted U.S. LNG exports cannot rise much more until new units enter service in 2022, since the United States only has capacity to export about 10.5 bcfd of gas as LNG. LNG plants pull in a little more gas than they export since they use some of the fuel to run the facility.

Traders said it was unlikely feedgas in April would top March’s record due to the Corpus reduction and other maintenance later this month, including expected work at Cameron LNG in Louisiana.

Officials at Cameron were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy